[OPEN ON AERIAL SHOT OF ORLANDO, FLORIDA. THE TRADITIONAL “OLYMPIC FANFARE AND THEME” BY JOHN WILLIAMS PLAYS, BUT RATHER THAN A MOVING COMBINATION OF HORNS AND PERCUSSION, WE HEAR KAZOOS. THE OLYMPIC RINGS RISE ONTO THE SCREEN一RED, BLUE, BLACK, GREEN, YELLOW. BEHIND THEM, AN ILLUSTRATION OF AN ARMCHAIR WITH A CELL PHONE SITTING ON THE ARM ALSO APPEARS. MUSIC CONTINUES AS WE CUT TO OUR HOSTS, FOUR-TIME OLYMPIAN SERENA WILLIAMS AND FIVE-TIME OLYMPIAN MICHAEL PHELPS AT A DESK OVERLOOKING ORLANDO, FLORIDA. SERENA WEARS A LUX PURPLE DRESS LIKE THE QUEEN SHE IS, WHILE PHELPS IS IN HIS USUAL SHORT-SLEEVED BUTTON DOWN. BOTH HAVE THEIR IMPRESSIVE COLLECTION OF MEDALS DISPLAYED AROUND THEIR NECKS.]
MICHAEL PHELPS: Today, we welcome viewers from the United States and around the world to the first—and hopefully last—Armchair Olympics in Orlando, Florida, broadcast on Comedy Central and ESPN. I am Michael Phelps.
SERENA WILLIAMS: And I am Serena Williams. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Armchair Olympics, let us give you a brief explainer. Every two years, athletes who have trained for years, if not their entire lives, compete to win medals and make their country proud in the Olympics.
PHELPS: Also every year, these highly-trained athletes are berated, mocked, and lectured on social media by viewers who, I think it is fair to say, have remotely no training in the sports.
[ON SCREEN FLASHES A MONTAGE OF TWEETS, CALLING OUT OLYMPIC ATHLETES FOR THEIR FORM, PERFORMANCE, AND SPEEDOS]
WILLIAMS: It’s more than fair, Michael. Since we have heard that they can do it better, we Olympians felt that these people should get the chance to prove their skills on an international stage like we do.
PHELPS: And that we should get the chance to critique them, like they do to us.
WILLIAMS: Level the playing field, so to speak.
(Serena holds in a smile, while Phelps chuckles).
PHELPS: Nice one.
WILLIAMS: Thank you.
(Serena and Phelps reset, adjusting their postures and face into those of serious newscasters).
Former Olympians will judge these Armchair Olympians and decide who will receive a replica gold medal and a gift certificate to Dave & Buster’s, or the restaurant equivalent in their country.
PHELPS: Since America has the largest delegation, we expect that they will dominate this year.
WILLIAMS: The state of Florida is particularly excited as 70 percent of the U.S. Team hails from the state and was one of the only areas of the world to throw their hat in the ring to host. In fact, they campaigned for five different cities.
PHELPS (confused): Is that something to be proud of?
WILLIAMS: I don’t think so, but they sure think so.
IN THE CORNER OF THE SCREEN IS A LIVE SHOT OF FANS OUTSIDE A COMPLEX. PEOPLE ARE DECKED OUT FOR THE EVENT WITH THEIR FACES AND CHESTS PAINTED, T-SHIRTS WITH PICTURES OF VARIOUS COMPETITORS PRINTED ON THEM, AND SIGNS THAT READ THINGS LIKE @ScubaDubaDoo is my Olympian AND Phelps has nothing on @TheTonyG.
PHELPS: Now that we have the basics down, let’s go to our first event of the day: the floor exercise at the Jump Jump Trampoline and Gymnastics SuperCenter.
[THE SHOT CHANGES TO A BIRD’S EYE OF THE JUMP JUMP. TRAMPOLINES SERVE AS FLOORING, AND FOAM AS WALLS. NEXT TO A BALANCE BEAM AND A RECENTLY INSTALLED VAULT AND SPRINGBOARD IS A POOL FILLED WITH FOAM BRICKS. A CHILD JUMPS IN AS AN EMPLOYEE CALLS FOR THEM STOP.]
WILLIAMS: (voiceover) It’s important to note that none of the former Olympic cities applied to host these games, so we’re not working out of the facilities you’re used to seeing.
PHELPS: On the ground is our gymnastics correspondent Nastia Liukin, who will tell us what you will be seeing today.
[NASTIA IS IN ONE OF HER EVENING WEAR PIECES—A COBALT BLUE TAFFETA ORGANZA. LIKE MICHAEL AND WILLIAMS, SHE, TOO IS DONNING HER MEDALS.]
LIUKIN: Thanks Serena and Michael. Today, we are going to see lots of flips, cartwheels, and jumps—or at least attempts at them—from our competitors as they take on the floor exercise. You can also bet on some, uhm (she stifles a laugh, but not a grin) creative song choices.
WILLIAMS: Can you give us examples?
LIUKIN: I can.
(Nastia lifts her phone and reads from the screen).
A few highlights: “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, “Push It” by Salt-N-Peppa, and “No Diggity” by Blackstreet.
PHELPS: Maybe I’m remembering some of those songs wrong, but a couple of them seem like they wouldn’t have the best beat for a typical floor exercise. Is that wrong?
LIUKIN: Not at all. It will be interesting to see how the judges react, whom, I should say, are members of the Fierce Five and Final Five teams, all of whom have been tweeted about by our competitors in this room.
[THE CAMERA PANS TO SIMONE BILES, GABBY HERNANDEZ, ALY RAISMAN, GABBY DOUGLAS, AND MCKAYLA MARONEY, SEATED AT A LONG TABLE OVERLOOKING THE FLOOR].
WILLIAMS: We’ll be seeing how the judges react to this. Oh, it looks like our first competitor is ready to go.
(A man walks onto the trampolines, a red and white striped sweatband is wrapped around his brown hair, with matching bands around each wrist. Based on the length of his shorts, it looks like he has stolen them from a 1970s basketball player after many wash cycles. He has tucked his white t-shirt into his shorts to form a makeshift leotard that leaves very little to the imagination).
(cocks her head, squinting at a monitor off-screen)
Nastia, gymnasts can receive deductions based on their appearance, can’t they?
LIUKIN: They can.
WILLIAMS: And the participants have been told this?
LIUKIN: They have.
WILLIAMS: So, this is an informed, intentional choice?
LIUKIN: It is.
WILLIAMS: (sighs) Okay, I just wanted people to know what they’re seeing.
LIUKIN: Who they are seeing is Dustin Rodgers, 28, out of Wisconsin. Rodgers is here for a few of his tweets. During the most recent Olympic trials, he posted a GIF of Simon Biles falling off the beam, with the words “GOAT my ass! I could balance better on one leg wearing a heel.” Four years earlier, he went off on Aly Raisman when she wobbled during a floor exercise and said “Anyone could’ve stuck that landing, except Aly No-land. If you’re going to represent the US, do better!” He is excited to prove himself here, he said, and would like everyone to know that he will be performing to Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf” to pay homage to the classic 2002 film Big Fat Liar starring Frankie Muniz, Amanda Bynes, and Paul Giamatti.
(Phelps and Williams share a look of disbelief)
PHELPS: Interesting selection. That’s not even the best Paul Giamatti movie.
WILLIAMS: Bold statement for a bold guy.
(“Hungry Like the Wolf” begins to play, and Rodgers places himself at the edge of the trampoline, raising his arms above his head and turning to the judges and the spectators on the few bleachers before starting his first run. He begins his first flip halfway across the floor, and while he lands successfully, he loses his balance as he transitions into a cartwheel, and falls, smacking his back on the ground. He rebounds, adjusts his displaced headband with determination, and bounds down the trampoline again. Unfortunately for Rodgers, history repeats itself with each pass, a few successful moves overshadowed by many failures.)
WILLIAMS: That was (she pauses, looking to search for the right words to describe what she just saw) something.
LUIKIN: Yes, and the judges do not look impressed. Entertained is different.
(At the judges table, Gabby Hernandez and Gabby Douglas hide laughter behind their hands and McKayla Maroney has pursed her lips in her trademark look. Aly Raisman stares down Rodgers in vindication. Simone Biles raises an eyebrow at Rodgers and shifts in her seat just enough to show the glimmer of the GOAT rhinestones on the shoulder of her jackets).
LUIKIN: They will now take the time to score. Rodgers was hitting a bit above his pay grade and chose a routine with a maximum difficulty of 15.0. I see quite a few deductions, so it may take a few minutes to get a number on the board.
WILLIAMS: Thank you, Nastia.
[SHOT RETURNS TO WILLIAMS AND PHELPS].
While we wait for that, we’re going to go over to the Orlando Aquatic Center and check in with Katie Ledecky and Ryan Lochte to see how the races have gone so far.
[VIEWERS SEE KATIE AND RYAN WAITING IN FRONT OF THE POOL WEARING NOT THEIR MEDALS, BUT THEIR WHITE AND BLUE TEAM USA SWIM TEAM JACKETS. BOTH ARE GRINNING. RYAN TAKES THE MOMENT TO GRAB A SELFIE WITH KATIE.]
LEDECKY: Things are going as well here as could be expected. Just a few minutes ago, we had our semi-final for the women’s 200-meter backstroke. Amahle Williams from South Africa took the top spot. Now the record is 2:03.35 seconds. Williams finished it in 3:31:22. Not bad for the average person, but not the record Willams claimed she could hit in her Facebook post.
LOCHTE: (shakes his head and lifts his red sunglasses onto his head)
No, it is not. Now, we’re waiting for the men to get ready for the 200-meter free. As you can see, they’re practicing now, and—
[In the pool behind them, a man bellows in pain. Ledekcy and Lochte turn to see what is going on].
LEDECKY: Hey, are you okay?
[A CHYRON IDENTIFIES THE MAN AS WINSTON HAGERTY OF THE UNITED KINGDOM. HIS QUALIFICATION: A TWEET MOCKING LOCHTE FOR HIS HAIR, REALITY SHOW, AND PERFORMANCE IN A RELAY ALL IN ONE.]
HAGERTY: My leg! It has a Charley Horse.
LOCHTE: Bro, got to stretch and eat some bananas before you swim. Potassium helps the cramps.
(Ryan looks back at the camera, and shrugs).
You’d think they’d know that.
LEDECKY: Almost like they’ve never done it before.
(The two share a laugh).
Looks like the race is going to be delayed as they give Hagerty some time to stretch, Serena and Michael.
[THE SHOT RETURNS TO MICHAEL AND SERENA]
PHELPS: Well, now may be a good time to go to commercial as we wait for things to get started again.
WILLIAMS: Agreed. Wait (she holds her hand up to her earpiece) it looks like Dustin Rodgers’ score has come in.
[A SCORE OF 3.9 APPEARS ON THE SCREEN ALSO BEING USED TO LET PEOPLE KNOW THEIR NACHOS ARE READY. RODGERS MOUTH MOVES IN A WORD THAT LOOKS LIKE SHIT, BUT IT’S IMMEDIATELY BLEEPED OUT. HE RIPS OFF HIS SWEATBAND AND TOSSES IT ONTO THE TRAMPOLINE ON HIS WAY TO THE ONE-STALL BATHROOM ACTING AS A LOCKER ROOM.]
WILLIAMS: Clearly, that is not what Rodgers wanted to hear.
PHELPS: No, it is not. What our viewers may want to hear, though, is a word from our sponsor, the Comedy Central Show, Practical Jokers: Sports Edition.
[FADE INTO COMMERCIAL]
WILLIAMS: Before we kick off the day, we would like to address comments that these events are petty.
PHELPS: And we don’t deny that.
WILLIAMS: No, no. We’re well aware that it is.
(leaninghe leans forward on the desk, and staringes directly into the camera)
What we would like to say is this: Is it not petty what these people were doing in the first place?”
(Beside him, Serena slowly nods)
WILLIAMS: We believe in accountability and this is holding them to their word. We’ve had to walk the walk so, if they want to participate, they’re going to, too.